Mulcahy confident extended Shannon guarantees can be secured

Clare Fine Gael Senator Tony Mulcahy says he believes a longer term guarantee can be secured from IAG in relation to Shannon Airport's Heathrow slots and service levels along with "solid commitments" in relation to Aer Lingus' transatlantic services.

The Shannon-based Senator last week threatened to resign the party whip if the Government sells its 25.1% shareholding in Aer Lingus to IAG on the basis of a 5-year Heathrow slot guarantee and in the absence of any commitment to future transatlantic services at the Clare airport.

"I made my position clear to Transport Minister Paschal Donoghue and at Wednesday night's Parliamentary Party meeting and I believe the Government is committed to rebuking any approach for its 25.1% shareholding in the airline unless certain commitments are introduced as part of IAG's offer. This includes IAG guaranteeing Shannon Airport's Heathrow slots for a period greater than the five years offered and a defined commitment in relation to transatlantic services. Any offer from IAG that falls short of this would be simply unpalatable to me and for many senior Government colleagues," said Senator Mulcahy

Senator Mulcahy expressed his disappointment with some Fine Gael TD's who had indicated that they would support IAG's bid in its current format, adding that they had "disregarded the concerns of the people of the West of Ireland".

"Quality connectivity to and from Shannon Airport is extremely important for ensuring balanced regional development and attracting investment into the west of the country. The already proposed 5-year guarantee should be increased to give greater investor confidence while a long term commitment should be extended to transatlantic services," he added.

"If Willie Walsh is as committed to growing business out of Shannon as he told me he was at a recent Joint Oireachtas Committee meeting, then delivering such guarantees as part of IAG's bid for Aer Lingus should not be a problem. The Government's 25.1% shareholding in Aer Lingus gives it significant bargaining power. Now is the time to use it which I am confident the Government will," said Senator Mulcahy.


Fine Gael Senator to resign whip if Government sells Aer Lingus share to IAG

Clare Fine Gael Senator Tony Mulcahy has said he will resign the party whip if the Government sells its 25.1% shareholding in Aer Lingus to IAG.

Senator Mulcahy was speaking following today's appearance by IAG Chief Executive Willie Walsh at the Oireachtas Transport Committee.

During the meeting, Mr. Walsh responded to a question from Senator Mulcahy stating he could not guarantee the future retention of Aer Lingus' transatlantic services to and from Shannon Airport.

"While Mr. Walsh confirmed to me IAG is in a position to guarantee Shannon Airport's Heathrow slots for a period of 5 years but that he could not guarantee the future retention of transatlantic services from the County Clare airport," said Senator Mulcahy.

"I cannot support any proposed sale of Aer Lingus to IAG as the risks are far too great for Shannon Airport, and the people of Clare and the West of Ireland. Should the Government sell its shares to IAG I will resign the party whip and Fine Gael will no longer be able to rely on my vote," concluded Senator Mulcahy.


Fund announced for introduction of new speed limits

Clare Fine Gael Senator Tony Mulcahy has said the Government's announcement of a €2m Speed Limits Review fund for local authorities should provide the impetus for Clare County Council to consider introducing new speed limits in housing estates and residential areas.

Senator Mulcahy said he welcomed the news that Clare County Council has already engaged the general public regarding the proposed introduction of new measures to reduce vehicle speeds in residential areas.

He stated: "Road Safety in built up areas and particularly areas where children are present is extremely important. I see the increased use of a 30km/h speed limit in residential areas as a measure that will help to keep pedestrians, cyclists and children at play safe."

"I am glad that the Council recently consulted the public to identify what estates should be included. It is important that the Council now act on the recommendations received and avail of the funding being made available by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. This funding will be allocated to local authorities as they come forward with their proposals to implement the lower speed limit and introduce new measures," said Senator Mulcahy.


Senator Mulcahy's Speech on Energy Production


Electric Ireland urged to reduce energy prices
Fine Gael Seanad Spokesperson on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Senator Tony Mulcahy has called on the Electric Ireland to replicate the decision of Bord Gais Energy to reduce its prices for gas and electricity.
Bord Gais Energy's move comes a week after Senator Mulcahy called on the Regulator and energy companies to explain why electricity bills had not been reduced in light of continued significant falls in gas and oil prices.
"I welcome Bord Gais Energy's decision to reduce its electricity prices by 3.5% for gas and 2.5% for electricity. The onus is now on Electric Ireland to follow suit," said Senator Mulcahy
"Any reduction in electricity or gas bills would provide a tremendous boost the economy and would help reduce overheads for households and businesses. Far too often we see companies using any hike in gas and oil prices as an excuse to raise prices and therefore, it is only right that the pressure be put on them to reduce bills are when such prices drop," he added.
Senator Mulcahy said he has already raised the issue in the Senate with Minister Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Alex White, TD., who is scheduled to meet the chief executives of energy companies next week to outline whether wholesale energy price reductions are being adequately reflected in household bills.


 NEW Back to work Family Dividend 

The government have just rolled out an new Back To Work Family Dividend. You can apply immediately, however no payments will be made until April 2015.
For one-parent families and long term jobseeker families with children who find or return to work, they will be able to retain the Qualified Child Increase of €29.80 per child, per week, for 12 months and then 50% of the rate for a second year. This applies to employment and self-employment. This Back toWork Family Dividend (BTWFD) will be in addition to eligibility for Family Income Supplement (FIS) and will not affect the level of FIS payment.
In order to be eligible for the BTWFD then a person must be coming off their main social welfare payment (One-Parent Family Payment, Jobseeker’s Allowance or Jobseeker’s Allowance – Transition), in full and going into employment or self-employment. A person who is already in employment and in receipt of One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) and who then increases their hours of employment to the point that they are no longer eligible for OFP because their earnings from work are in excess of €425 a week (gross) or who is no longer entitled to an OFP payment because of the age of their youngest child may then qualify for the BTWFD.
You can download the application form here or contact my office 061 590661 for further information.


 Clare Co.Co. have issued a red alert weather warning. They have also set up an Emergency number Weather warning. The emergency number is 1890 252 943. This has been established for members of the public to report any fallen trees, blocked roads or flooding. 


Mulcahy urges Region to support new Ryanair services

Clare Fine Gael Senator Tony Mulcahy has said the future viability of Shannon International Airport has been greatly enhanced by Ryanair’s announcement of 8 new services.

The Shannon-based Senator said today’s announcement heralds a new beginning for Shannon and is a further indication of the return to growth at the airport.
Ryanair says that from April 2014 it will begin operating from Shannon to Berlin, Faro, Fuerteventura, Krakow, Munich, Nice, Paris and Warsaw, delivering an additional 300,000 passengers per annum to the airport.

He stated: “In previous years, Shannon was very much dependent on Ryanair and in doing so suffered greatly when the airline withdrew many of its services during 2009 and 2010. However, we are in a much different situation as we head into 2014 with a number of transatlantic and short haul operators now based at Shannon. For example, the short period since autonomy was granted to Shannon Airport has seen some very significant, positive developments take place including Aer Lingus’ new service to Faro, Flybe’s new service to Glasgow and the addition of numerous transatlantic services.”

Senator Mulcahy said it is now up to the people of the West of Ireland to ensure that the services are maintained into the future. He continued: “We, as a region, cannot afford to be complacent about the services on offer at Shannon as seen with the loss of other services down through the years. By supporting existing services, the people of this region can play an important role in protecting Shannon Airport’s future. To consolidate the future of these new services, I would ask the people of this Region to support Shannon Airport when considering a trip abroad while tourism and hospitality operators can also play their part by promoting the airport as the key gateway to Ireland.”

“As a local community, we have fought long and hard to promote Shannon Airport as the West of Ireland’s transatlantic airport and as provider of quality connectivity to other international locations. Together, we can complement the good work being undertaken by airport management in recent months by supporting the newly announced Ryanair services.

“I want to commend the Government for its decision to scrap the Air Travel Tax from April 2014. This disastrous Fianna Fáil-imposed tax undermined the efforts of airports to retain existing routes and develop new services. I also want to acknowledge Ryanair and Michael O’Leary for fulfilling their promise of restoring services at Shannon should the tax be abolished,” concluded Senator Mulcahy.


Forestry premium applications accepted online

Clare Senator Tony Mulcahy has welcomed the news that forest owners in Clare can apply for 2014 forestry premiums online courtesy of the forestry online services, developed by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
From 19th November 2013, applicants will be able to apply for their 2014 premium if they have registered for the Department’s online services at The online premium application service also allows clients to view some of their payment history and maps of their forest plantations.
Senator Mulcahy said the online application process will speed up the premium payment process for forest owners in Clare.
He continued: “Payments will be made within weeks of the submission of the application instead of having to wait for the bulk run in April. This will provide forest owners with an earlier cash flow. There are currently just over 8,700 forest owners registered for the Department’s online services and these clients will be able to submit future applications online, which leads to more prompt payments and reduced paperwork for the clients.”


Mulcahy says Bailout is ‘milestone’ moment for Irish economic recovery

Fine Gael Senator for Clare, Tony Mulcahy has said that Ireland’s exit from the bailout will help attract jobs and investment to the country.
While acknowledging the sacrifices made by Irish people in recent years, Senator Mulcahy described exiting the bailout as “a milestone on the road to economic recovery.”
He added that the fact that, from December 15th Ireland will no longer be a bailout country will send a further signal to home-grown and foreign investors that “Ireland is a great place to base their business and create jobs.”
“The EU/IMF arrived three years ago this month. Having our economic sovereignty taken from us was possibly the lowest moment in the history of the State. However, the contrast between then and now could not be greater.
“Our economy is experiencing growth for the third consecutive year and 3,000 new jobs are being created every month. The number of people on the live register has dropped for the sixteenth consecutive month and is now under 400,000 for the first time since 2009. The NTMA has more than €20 billion in cash reserves and interest rates on Irish Government bonds are historically low.
“Our focus from day one has been on job creation and it remains so to this day. Employment grew by 1.8% in the second quarter of 2013; the strongest growth rate recorded in five years.
“This Government has had to take difficult decisions to help Ireland emerge from bankruptcy. However we have tried, as much as we can, to improve the situation for families by removing 330,000 people from paying the Universal Social Charge; by restoring the minimum wage; by reducing the lower rate of VAT to 9%; by not increasing income tax rates and by protecting our corporation tax rate, which supports thousands of jobs right across Ireland.
“I am disappointed with the response of Fianna Fáil to the bailout exit. Having mismanaged Ireland to the point of bankruptcy and then sleepwalked us into the bailout, Fianna Fáil has poured scorn on the fact that we are exiting the programme. This is because they are all too aware of the contrast between their drastic reign and this Government’s considered and sustainable management of the economy.


Tony Mulcahy

Tony Mulcahy

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